UCLA Library Department of Special Collections|
Recent Acquisitions in the Department of Special Collections
Modern Fine Printing and Graphic Arts:
Artistsí Books by Julie Chen and Mary Heebner
On Exhibit September 2001
The UCLA Department of Special Collections actively collects contemporary artistsí books and fine press printing. Many of these works are acquired as they relate to existing collecting areas, thus allowing the Department to build on its strengths while expanding its holdings of contemporary book production. Books printed in Los Angeles, and by extension throughout California, document printing, publishing, and cultural expression in the region and around the state. Works produced in formats or on subjects related to existing holdings are also acquired. For example, publications with a connection to the Childrenís Book Collection may incorporate elements of alphabet books, fairy tales, and movable books. Other subjects for artistsí books related to departmental holdings include Californiana, Ethnic Studies, Hebraica and Judaica, Literature, Natural Resources (including landscape, desert, mountains, ocean, and water), Photography, and the West.
Julie Chen and Mary Heebner are two California book artists whose works are collected by the Department of Special Collections. Both have come to book making from backgrounds in art and are engaged in exploring and expanding the concept of the traditional printed book as a vehicle for aesthetic expression. Both are proprietors of their own publishing concerns, have exhibited widely, and have their individual aesthetic interests concerned with the physical format and intellectual content of the codex.
Julie Chen and Flying Fish PressJulie Chen received an M.A. in Book Arts from Mills College, where she is an instructor today. She teaches courses on Structures and Visual Books, Bookbinding, Introduction to Book Arts, and Printmaking. She also teaches bookmaking workshops across the country. She is presently the sole proprietor of Flying Fish Press in Berkeley, where she serves as book designer, typesetter, printer, bookbinder, and publisher. Since 1987, she has produced twenty-two books under this imprint.
Chen writes that Flying Fish Press is "dedicated to working with artists on book projects which combine the quality and craftsmanship of traditional letterpress printing with the innovation and visual excitement of contemporary non-traditional book structures and modern typography. There is an emphasis on book structures which can function both traditionally as books as well as sculptural objects to be displayed."
Mary Heebner and Simplemente Maria PressMary Heebner received her B.A. and M.F.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has exhibited her collages and paintings in solo and group exhibitions for the last three decades. Since 1990, she has also been making artistsí books combining her images with her own writing or the texts of authors such as Robinson Jeffers and Pablo Neruda. Last year, her essays and watercolor sketches were included in The Western Horizon, a book of photographs of the western United States by Macduff Everton. This last project formed the basis for her two Western Trilogy editions.
Heebner states, "Through my art, I seek connection with the oldest made things and with the soil from which they were shaped. For over twenty-five years, physical places have been wellsprings of inspiration for me . . . I find that an intense experience in a natural site -- the smells, feel, touch and cultural memory -- imbue the place with a sacredness that demands something of me. Making art is the form of translation I use to touch the nerve and glimpse at the mystery of being alive and connected to land and people across time."
Heebner, Mary. A la orilla azul del silencio, on the blue shore of silence. Poems of the sea by Pablo Neruda, translations from the Spanish by Alastair Reid. Santa Barbara: Simplemente Maria Press, 2001.
Heebnerís original watercolors were painted with this production in mind, acknowledging that "the same sea that inspired Pablo Neruda had also inspired my series of Isla Negra paintings." The images reproduced for the book were printed at the Duganne Atelier in Santa Monica under the direction of the artist. The portfolio contains twelve hand-folded folio sheets, each containing an image accompanying a poem by Pablo Neruda in the original Spanish and Alastair Reidís English translation. Great care was taken in all parts of the production, including the cockling on the edges of the linen sheets alluding to waves approaching the shore.
Heebner, Mary. Western Trilogy: The prairie, the desert, the ocean. Santa Barbara: Simplemente Maria Press, 2000.
Heebner produced the original watercolors and the text in each of the books in this trilogy. With an eye to detail, USGS topographical maps of Nebraska and the Mojave Desert and bathymetric maps of the Pacific Ocean are used as endpapers in The prairie, The desert, and The ocean respectively. The writing is excerpted from The Western Horizon, a book of photographs of the western states. The texts include geographic, geologic, oceanic, and meteorological observations that together become a meditation on humanityís place in this landscape.
Heebner, Mary. Western trilogy II: mountain, canyon, dune. Santa Barbara: Simplemente Maria Press, 2001.
Heebner continued her verbal and visual depictions of the American West in Western trilogy II: mountain, canyon, dune. As in the first trilogy, the paintings and text are tipped onto accordion-folded Tiepolo paper, USGS topographic maps are used for endpapers, and the writing is excerpted from The Western Horizon. In these volumes, however, the writing is both more personal and metaphoric, further exploring the artistís experiences in the various landscapes.
Julie Chen. Bon bon mots: a fine assortment of books. Berkeley: Flying Fish Press, 1998.
The box, designed to resemble a chocolate candy sampler, contains three miniature books, one folded octagonal object with text, and a small box with text. The five texts, like pieces of candy, rest in a cloth that covers the partitioned bottom of the box. To complete the effect, a sampler diagram is printed on the inside cover of the box. The texts, all by Chen, are brief meditations, observations, and instructions concerned with everyday life.
Julie Chen and David Turner. (In)versions. Berkeley: Flying Fish Press, 2000.
(In)versions was produced for an exhibition at the San Jose Tech Museum entitled "Experiments in the Future of Reading." It is a collaborative work that combines drawings by David Turner and monoprint and collage elements by Julie Chen. Partially produced in a digital book arts lab at the museum, the pages were printed on a Xerox DocuColor 40 and cut using a Universal Systems laser cutter. When the book is unfolded, two separate multi-dimensional landscapes and scenes can be viewed, one from each end. Structurally, the publication is a descendant of the nineteenth-century "peepshows" found in the Departmentís Childrenís Book Collection.
Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum. Ode to a grand staircase (for four hands). Berkeley: Flying Fish Press and Portland, Oregon: Triangular Press, 2001.
Erik Satie (1866-1925) was a composer known for his distinctive texts and musical directions to accompany his music (which he strictly forbade to be read aloud). For example, in place of "Adagio," he once wrote, "Severe Reprimand." In another composition, his instructions included "Generally flabby preludes" and "If the good Lord sees that he will be furious." For Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum, Satieís aesthetic inspired the visual dialogue found in Ode to a grand staircase (for four hands). The text is derived from the musical directives and silent librettos that accompanied his scores. The story comes from "The March of the Grand Staircase," composed by Satie in 1914.
After the overall design was established, texts were chosen and pages exchanged between the artists. Tetenbaum designed and printed elements on all pages first. These were then sent to Chen who, in turn, designed and printed her contribution in response to Tetenbaumís work, the flow of the text, and Satieís music. The leaves are bound in a French-door structure in which the right and left hand pages can be turned independently, and at different rates. Thus, each double-page spread can be viewed and read as a whole as well as in a multitude of half-page combinations.
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Last update: 2/5/02